Early Reports Mixed on iPhone MMS Experience

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-09-27 Print this article Print

Most people were pleased to be able to add the new service. However, as might be expected with anything that is new, others were not enthralled with the new capability -- one that many other less-expensive mobile phones have had for years.

A software extension that enables multimedia messaging for iPhones became available on Apple's iTunes App Store Sept. 25. While many people shrugged off work to download and check out the new feature, the early reports were generally mixed on how well it actually performs.

Most people were pleased to be able to add the new service. However, as might be expected with anything that is new, others were not enthralled with the new capability-one that many less-expensive mobile phones have had for years.

Users were having difficulty finding and downloading the extension; some were unimpressed with the quality of the compressed video. Others were wondering why it took so long for Apple and AT&T to release it in the United States because MMS (multimedia messaging service) has been available in Europe for a number of months on the device.

MMS is an extension of the standard SMS (short messaging service) text-messaging application that enables multimedia content such as photos, video clips and audio tracks to be sent over a cellular network between compatible devices.

To deploy MMS, iPhone owners are required to sync their phones with iTunes, download the extension from the App Store site and then restart their devices. Even then, a user wanting to send a text message with a photo or audio clip needs to be sure that the receiving device also has the MMS installed.

Another important note: Users must have iPhone 3.1 installed to use MMS. Users with Version 3.0 have tethering capability but will not be able to use MMS. Conversely, those with v3.1 won't be able to tether their devices to another computer.

"Although the iPhone itself provides a number of methods such as e-mail support for sending content, the advantage of MMS is that messages can be sent to many other non-smartphone devices-phones that may not even be capable of receiving e-mail or accessing the Internet," wrote blogger Jesse Hollington in iLounge.

"You won't see a separate MMS app [when trying to download it from iTunes]," Hollington wrote. "The existing Messages app is also used to send MMS messages once the feature is enabled. The quickest way to determine if MMS is supported is to look for the little camera button to the left of the text entry field. This button is used to browse your photo library to send pictures and videos via MMS."

Here is a smattering of user comments collected by eWEEK via Twitter on Sept. 25:

  • "MMS finally ... It's nice that my iPhone can now do the same thing as all the really cheap cell phones my friends own."
  • "Should the iPhone MMS be a new 'app' or hiding inside of an existing one. Connected to iTunes and waiting for the magic."
  • "iPhone MMS video is so compressed that it's practically unwatchable."
  • "My iPhone can send picture text messages, finally!!"
  • "I'm surprised it took so long for the States to get it. Sweden has had it for the iPhone since the launch of iPhone 3G, I think."
  • "The dilemma, iPhone tethering on 3.0 or upgrade to 3.1 for MMS pictures and video? I really like my tethering. Why can't we have both?"
  • "MMS on the iPhone ... wow, not that impressed, maybe I just don't care??"
  • "MMS on my iPhone is NOT working. Damn thing won't send."
  • "MMS on iPhone is pretty nice ... as long as the other iPhone you're sending it to has the patch. otherwise, no msg sent. ugh."
  • "Thank you Apple for allowing me to send and receive pics through text. ... My iPhone finally feels like a complete cellphone!!!"
  • "All my other phones could do it. I had no idea when I got the iPhone that it couldn't. LOL." 

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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